That LF Look...

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by c_watson|1, Mar 18, 2019.

  1. A couple of responses.

    1. The author makes an issue of how the camera induces the photographer to develop rapport with his subjects. While I’m sure this is true and such cameras are well known for slowing down the process, any photographer with any camera has the choice to stop and engage subjects when photographing them. While cellphones are great for quicker responses and on-the-fly shooting, nothing prevents a photographer using a cellphone from giving some time to his subjects.
    2. The idea of Prospect Park comes up throughout the article, yet I get little sense of the actual park. Given the text of the article itself, I was expecting to get more of a sense of the people within the environment of the park. Most of the shots are closeups, not giving much of the surroundings. A couple feel downright claustrophobic. The few shots where we’re given a wider or longer view present us more with “generic park” and give us little sense of the character of Prospect Park or the unique flavor of Brooklyn.
    3. Honestly, while the technical quality of the shots is evident, the people themselves are all photographed with a kind of stiffness and seem more like sculptures in the park. That may be a deliberate style but it really doesn’t show the human connection the author is talking about from the photographer having slowed down. Slowing down and engaging your subjects is a good start, but it doesn’t ensure that I as a viewer will feel that connection through the photo. That’s up to the photographer, not the camera! There are several photos of two or more people and in not one of them do they actually seem to be relating to each other, even if they’re arm in arm, Instead, they’re energy seems concentrated, like the author of the article, on the camera.
    Jochen likes this.
  2. Vincent Peri likes this.
  3. Shouldn't be. The NYT allows a small number of free views per month, same as many other papers. They have a paywall after that, without which they wouldn't be able to pay much of their staff.

    I think some of these images are superb. I think the story line isn't really about cell phone cameras; it's about a style of portraiture that he was able to do in part because of the complication and slow pace of his work. I suppose one could to that with a cell phone, but my guess is that many subjects would wonder what you are doing taking so long and would lose patience.

    I've been the subject for professional photographers a number of times, and all of them took considerable time and had techniques for building some rapport. In some cases, the equipment helped--for example, having to fuss with lighting. That gave time for everyone to relax and talk a little. Very different from the candids I sometimes do.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  5. I would have thought the slow, deliberate nature of LF would have ensued a correctly composed image which makes the missing 1/2 foot of “Allie” , “Oksana” and the dog in “Jay and Missy” strange.
  6. AJG


    Have you ever worked with large format? When you're working with live subjects, (even cooperative ones like these ) sometimes people and dogs can move a bit further than you thought in the time between when you stopped looking through the ground glass and then closed the shutter, inserted the film holder, pulled the dark slide and finally clicked the shutter. I have photographed live animals on 4x5 with strobe for a light source to obviate subject motion problems. It can be challenging, to say the least.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  7. Surely a competent photographer would allow for that? Motion blur is one thing but chopping of feet, corners of picnic blankets (which don’t move) is bad practice whatever the format
  8. I wouldn’t be surprised if those were intentional decisions. Though I’m critical of the photos, it’s not for reasons of having broken some photography best practice. “Correctly composed,” you say? Photographers have been leaving part of a head, hand, or foot out of the frame forever, in all types of shots. Sure, sometimes it’s a mistake a photographer might regret, but I doubt most photographers would ever let such a mistake see the light of day, let alone be included in a spread in The NY Times. In this case I think this kind of framing is just meant to add a note of casualness to the photos and be a way to perhaps offset an otherwise formal-feeling approach.

    Interestingly, here’s one of Annie Leibovitz’s most recent shots from a Vanity Fair spread. Like it or not, I’m quite sure she framed this the way she wanted it. In Annie’s case, I’d say it’s actually a bit more aggressive.

    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
    robert_bowring likes this.
  9. To me, I see compelling compositions that draw me in to look-really look-deeply at the subjects and think about them.

    In all honesty, I didn't notice the missing feet/chopped off blanket/etc until they were pointed out here. I see the faces and expressions captured as being the focus of these photographs. Anyone who has ever shot LF knows that capturing fleeting expressions and the like can be difficult.

    To me, these are strong photographs and I'd guess-as others have said-that the cut off feet, etc were intentional and not accidental.

    I also see getting bogged down in "rules" of composition to be a crutch for less experienced photographers-a composition that breaks the "rules" can still be strong and moving despite that.
    robert_bowring likes this.
  10. But we will never know if the crops were intentional. To me, these photos are dull and poorly executed and not a good argument for LF photography or an argument against phone photography
  11. My posts are not about following rules. Rather they are about using mediocre photos to illustrate a point.
  12. The photos don’t do much for me either, as I said originally.

    If you weren’t talking about following rules, my bad. I took your thoughts about the framing and “correct” cropping to be just that but appreciate you may have meant something else.

    While it came up, the “intention” of the photographer is somewhat less important to me than what the photos show. The cutoff limbs and blanket corners seem organic to the photos. It’s the expression and narrative I find wanting.
  13. There's a difference between cropping an image in order to strengthen the composition and cutting off parts (intentional or not); for the images in question, in my opinion, it is the latter - and the images suffer as a result.
  14. AJG


    I would point out that we are all looking at images on the web, not the original prints made by the photographer. There is a vast difference between reproductions and the actual prints in most cases, and the reproductions are rarely an improvement. I still remember the first time I saw actual Edward Weston prints after being quite familiar with the images from good quality art books. The books show you the image content, but they can't convey the same feeling as the actual prints. There is a depth and presence in a good print that the best reproductions simply don't have.
  15. Not too make it too much about technique, but reading between the lines they seem to be presented as 8x10 contacts.

    There really is something magical about a large format contact print. Really, it's there on ANY contact, it's just that they're inconveniently small on most anything other than 4x5.

    I feel a certainly "pull" towards 8x10, but have resisted because of both the cost of film and the logistics of processing that I'm really just not equipped to handle. The 8x10 contacts from someone who really knew what they were doing, though, have on more than one occasion made me try and figure out a way to make it happen. That's not to say that I could magically do it(my darkroom prints now are better than they were a couple of years ago, but I'll still readily admit that I have a long way to go) but the temptation is there.
  16. nice article
    but IDK photographs are photographs
    you really can't tell the photographs were made
    with 100lbs of camera equipment. maybe his lens has
    a signature that i don't see because he's not shooting wide open
    but someone who knows what are doing can probably make similar photographs
    using a point and shoot camera / cellphone if they can get the DOF to be similar...
    maybe its the look the subjects are giving? big old view camera tents to make people look "serious"

    still, fun stuff ...
  17. Well, I really enjoyed looking at these photos. I like the shallow depth of focus and the beautiful tonality. I rather liked the poses and expressions too. The cropping does not bother me at all; my eye doesn't even go there. Absolutely all photos of people are "manufactured" to some extent, meaning they are a combination of what the subject is willing to present to the camera, and what the photographer is able to capture, and what he or she is trying to capture. We're all different in how we do this.
    robert_bowring and richard a like this.
  18. I like the images. The 8 x 10 look is very apparent and beautiful, and the stillness of the portraits to me suggests that the people in the photos should be considered to be serious individuals with inner thoughts and opinions that may be important. Cropping does not worry me.
    robert_bowring likes this.

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